Intermittent Fasting - The Why, The How & The What

  • Learn what intermittent fasting is, why it is beneficial and when it is/is not recommended.


Intermittent fasting simply put is time restricted eating. It includes a window of eating and a window of fasting. For example, a 16:8 intermittent fast has a 16 hour window of fasting and an 8 hour window of eating.


Why Intermittent Fast?


Fasting is a practice that has been around for millennia. It has been used by people of many different cultures and religions for the purpose of spiritual connection, purification and detoxification.


Intermittent fasting also has many health benefits. Here are my top 3:


  • It promotes cell autophagy: cell autopgahy is the body's clean-up mechanism, think of it as the garbage crew. Immune cells mobilize damaged cells out of the body and regenerate new and healthier ones.

  • It promote lipolysis: fat is stored in our liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissues. Our fat reserves are intended to fuel us in times of scarcity, a very real thing for our hunter gather ancestors. If we are consuming a lot of food on a regular basis, we never tap into that fat reserve and end up storing more and more. Intermittent fasting unleashes our stored fat as our primary source of fuel during our fast.

  • It promote insulin sensitivity: the more sensitive we are to insulin, the better. Insulin is our fat storage hormone and is released by the pancreas every time we consume carbohydrates. By giving our body a break from digestion, we increase our sensitivity to insulin. The more sensitive we are, the less we need to produce. Therefore, the less insulin we produce, the less fat we store and accumulate.

Metabolic Flexibility


Metabolic flexibility is our ability to burn both carbohydrates and fat for fuel. In this day and age, most people are metabolically inflexible and rely on carbohydrates for fuel.


Have you ever met a person that gets hangry in between meals? Or needs a snack in order to get a boost of energy? Or relies heavily on their 3pm cup of coffee to get them through the day? These are all prime examples of those who are metabolically inflexible.

The goal of intermittent fasting is to become metabolically flexible -- that way our body has the ability to switch from one source of fuel to the other, depending on the circumstance that we are in.


Ease Into It


When it comes to intermittent fasting, the rule of thumb is to start slow. If your body has been operating a certain way for many years, any change is going to cause some disruption.


You can gradually increase your fasting window every couple of days until you reach a comfortable spot.


A good starting point would be a 12 hour fast, then 14, then 16, etc. Stop when you feel comfortable.


Too Far, Too Fast


Did you go from 0-100 in 60 seconds?


Here are some symptoms that you may experience while your body is trying to adjust to burning fat:

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Lightheadedness

  • Brain fog

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may want to scale your fasting window back and increase gradually. That can mean 30 minutes each day until you reach your desired fasting window.


If you are in the position where you don't feel ready to fully commit to IF, you can incorporate a transitionary period where you increase your fat intake. Incorporating a keto-like diet will get your body accustomed to using fat for energy.


Once you have done this for a couple of weeks, you should be ready to start intermittent fasting.

Contraindications


Intermittent fasting can be extremely therapeutic but it can also be harmful in certain contexts.


I would avoid intermittent fasting for those with:

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Are pregnant or trying to conceive

  • HPA dysfunction

  • Sleep deprivation

  • A very stressful life

  • Eating disorders/past eating disorders


The Perfect Ratio


Fasting, just like our diet, is bio-individual. That means, there is no perfect ratio. A ratio that works for you may not work for the person next to you.


My biggest advice is to listen to your body.


You will know that the ratio is right for you when:

  • You have great energy levels throughout the day while fasting

  • You have more brain clarity

  • Your mood is good and you do not feel irritable

  • You don't feel jittery or hangry in between meals


If you are still feeling unsure about intermittent fasting, book a consultation and we can create a plan that will be optimal for you!


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